In Interlagos, Max Verstappen was spotted touching Hamilton’s rear wing after qualifying, and he was subsequently fined €50,000.
The Barcelona picture appears to have been taken some time after the podium ceremony as the cars have been moved from where they initially parked after the flag, and lined up side-by-side in parc ferme.
A video surfacing online later appears to show Hamilton doing his best to avoid making contact with the wing.
Hamilton was called for a routine doping test immediately after the race, and thus had to go to the circuit’s medical centre.
It would thus appear that the picture was taken while he was returning from the test, long after the podium ceremony.
It’s not entirely clear from the angle whether Hamilton really was touching the wing, or simply passing behind the car and the railings beyond it.
There may also be a question on the timing, and whether or not the cars were still officially under parc ferme conditions, although usually they are taken away by their teams as soon as they are officially released by the FIA.
Verstappen’s actions in Brazil were deemed to have contravened Article 2.5.1 of the FIA’s International Sporting Code, which reads: “Inside the parc ferme, only the officials assigned may enter. No operation, checking, tuning or repair is allowed unless authorised by the same officials or by the applicable regulations.”
On that occasion there was an extra edge to the story as Hamilton’s wing subsequently failed scrutineering.
The stewards examined onboard footage from various cars in parc ferme as well as video taken by fans and posted online.
The stewards agreed that while Verstappen had touched the Mercedes, he hadn’t put any force on the wing, and thus hadn’t contributed to the car’s failure to comply with the regulations.
However, they made it clear in their verdict that Verstappen should not have touched the car, fining him €50,000.
They noted: “It is clear to the stewards that it has become a habit of the drivers to touch cars after qualifying and the races.
“This was also the explanation of Verstappen, that it was simply habit to touch this area of the car which has been a point of speculation in recent races between both teams.
“This general tendency has been seen as mostly harmless and so has not been uniformly policed. Nevertheless, it is a breach of the parc ferme regulation and has significant potential to cause harm.
“Considering the fact that no direct harm was caused in this case, in the opinion of the stewards, and that no earlier precedent of penalties for this exists – on the one hand; but that it is a breach of the regulation and has potential for serious consequences on the other, the stewards determine to take action in this case and order a fine of €50,000.
“The stewards further note that it is intended that all teams and drivers take notice that future breaches may incur different penalties from the Stewards of those events.”
The FIA added some further clarity on the matter in this year’s F1 sporting regulations. Article 60.5 states that “drivers must not interfere with parc ferme protocols in any way.”
Motorsport.com has asked the FIA for comment.
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